Four dogs - Harley, Suzie Q, Cookie and Princess - died near their home in the Black Forest fire.

The German Shepherds were laid to rest on their property off Juanita Street and Black Forest Road where they once joyfully romped. Circles of stone mark their graves.

It was apparently a group of firefighters buried them, according to a note they left.

Family member Philip Ludwig said he spoke to one of the firefighters who had been so thoughtful. They were still in the area Wednesday looking for fire hot spots.

"I didn't get his name. But he told me that he doesn't have kids, only dogs and he wouldn't want to come back to seeing his pets like that, so put them under ground."

The dogs lived at the home of Jenniffer and Darrell Fortner.

"Harley was swarthy, but my big sweetheart," Philip Ludwig said. "Suzie Q was a wild crazy teenager and would run around and lick you to death. She was Harley's best friend."

Darrell Fortner, who owns Dundee Tree Service, had been working on property affected by the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire. He lost his bulldozer and other equipment in the Black Forest fire, family members said. The Fortner home was destroyed, too.

"I didn't know about the fire until I got off work about 4:30 p.m., and when I got up there, they wouldn't let anyone in," said Ashley Ludwig, Philip's wife. "I was angry. I could have gone in because the fire didn't get there until 7:15. I just watched and bawled my eyes out."

Butters the cat is missing, too, and the Ludwigs' eight-year-old son Jesse was grieving the loss.

"She is playful and loving," Jesse said. "I've had three animals, King a black lab and a goldfish. I called him goldfish."

He said someday he wants another cat. "All white like Butters."

Ashley Ludwig lost her mother, an avid animal lover, a number of years ago. "I just like to think they are all up there with mom," she said.


Flag still flies

Oh say does that star spangled banner still wave?

Amazingly it does.

The American flag survived the Black Forest fire when all else at 13025 Brentwood Drive was gone.

Across the street at 13030 Brentwood, the only part remaining of a log cabin is a stone fireplace. And on that mantle a porcelain figurine of Mary and baby Jesus was untouched by flames.

On a patch of green near those homes, the crosses and plastic flowers of a makeshift memorial to a girl killed in a car wreck years ago also were not burned.

"It gives me goose bumps," said Paul Helm, who returned to his home to see the figurine on his mantle and those other untouched items amidst the ruins of his neighborhood.

Helm, a civil service employee at Peterson Air Force Base, was taking photos of his property, which he purchased only four months ago. The fire destroyed his historic cabin, which was once a stage stop, trading post and church.

"I turned around and there in my neighbor's driveway was that flag she always had there. It lifted my spirits."

Mary Addington and her retired Marine husband Harold had been on vacation when their house burned down. A quilter, Addington had made the flag and kept it on a pole near her driveway.

"I haven't been out there yet, and when Paul called me I couldn't believe it," Addington said. Their daughter saved their pets. Everything else they owned was destroyed, including quilts made by Addington's pioneering grandmother who came across the plains in a wagon to homestead this area.

"I cried about those," Addington said. "But here is this little flag. It's like Francis Scott Key when everything was lost and by dawn's early light he could see the flag. All isn't lost. We lost the battle but not the war."


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